Auction of Banksy gorilla postponed by lockdown

Bidders on a Banksy mural will have to wait for lockdown to end to secure a piece of the artist’s iconic work.

The virtual auction of ‘Gorilla in a Pink Mask’ was due to end tomorrow, Tuesday 17 November. Street art restoration company, Exposed Walls, has decided to postpone the sale until interested buyers are able to view the artwork again in person.

Also known as ‘Masked Gorilla’ and ‘Glitter Gorilla’, the 1.5m by 0.8m mural depicts a gorilla holding up a pink masquerade mask. It appeared on the wall of the former North Bristol Social Club in Eastville around 2001. Now home to the Jalalabad Islamic Centre, the building’s new owner, Saeed Ahmed, painted over the aerosol on concrete artwork in 2011 mistaking it for graffiti. It was later restored.

In October, it was reported that Exposed Walls had removed the 100kg artwork for sale. ‘The reason for selling is because the building is falling to pieces and we wanted to safeguard the piece,’ Ahmed explained. He said the centre planned to use the proceeds from the sale to restore the 100-year-old building and would also donate funds to local charities in the Bristol area.

Wayne Rock of Exposed Walls described how challenging it was to remove the mural from the side of the building. ‘It took four or five days to remove it. We had to create a hole and come from behind so that it didn’t break and we could release it,’ he recalled.

A statement on the Exposed Walls website outlines the decision to withdraw the auction in light of the UK Government’s coronavirus lockdown measures. The company writes that it has been ‘inundated with enquires to view the piece’ but was unable to arrange viewing appointments before lockdown set in. ‘We will relaunch the auction once further government guidance is available and we are in a position to arrange viewings’.

Before the auction was withdrawn, prospective buyers had bid up to six figure sums for the mural.

In the meantime, Ahmed has described how the decision to sell the gorilla was bittersweet. ‘I do miss it. We used to have lots of people coming to look at it and now people come and see it’s gone’, he said.

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